Exercise is safe—and highly recommended—for most people with type 2 diabetes, including those with complications. Along with diet and medication, exercise will help you lower blood sugar and lose weight.
However, the prospect of diving into a workout routine may be intimidating. If you’re like many newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics, you may not have exercised in years.
If that’s the case, don’t worry: It’s fine to start slow and work up. These tips will help you ease back into exercise and find a workout plan that works for you.
Try quick workouts
As long as you’re totaling 30 minutes of exercise each day, several brief workouts are fine, says George Griffing, MD, professor of endocrinology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“We need people with diabetes up and moving,” Dr. Griffing says. “If you can do your exercise in one 30 minute stretch, fine. But if not, break it up into increments you can manage that add up to at least 30 minutes each day.”
Focus on overall activity
Increase activity in general—such as walking or climbing stairs—rather than a particular type of exercise.
However, don’t rely on housework or other daily activity as your sole exercise. Too often, people overestimate the amount of exercise they get and underestimate the amount of calories they consume.
Get a pedometer
Stanford University researchers conducted a review of 26 studies looking at the use of pedometers as motivation for physical activity. Published in 2007, the review found that people who used a pedometer increased their activity by 27%.
Having a goal of 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) was important, even if the goal wasn’t reached. Pedometer users lost more weight, had a greater drop in blood pressure, and walked about 2,500 steps more per day than those who didn’t use a pedometer.